Third Eye

Youth essential in addressing climate change crisis

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021 00:00 |
Effects of climate change. Photo/Courtesy

The United Kingdom will host the 26th United Nations Climate Change summit (COP26) from November 1 to 12.

As climate change catastrophe continues to threat human existence, governments and organizations should recognise the key role that youth play in tackling climate change and work closely with young people for innovative solutions.

Youth innovation is essential to addressing the crisis - young people must have an active and recognised role in interventions related to climate change.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation report, global average temperature has increased by 1.1°C since the pre-industrial period, and by 0.2°C compared to 2011-2015.

The report reveals that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have also increased to record levels, locking in warming trends for generation to come.

Across the world, young people are enraged about the lack of action on climate change and have been calling for action.

The youth are both demanding action and taking action, and a lot of it is very innovative.

Inspired by Greta Thunberg and other outspoken teens, young people have been raising global awareness of the dire consequences climate change could have for their generation’s future.

They are making change happen through their activism and through their jobs and livelihoods.

Meanwhile, more quietly, young people have been charting that future as they help their communities adapt to the changes already happening.

There are so many initiatives and so many young people trying to address climate change and make the world better.

Indeed, young people in Africa are leading the way in the fight against climate change and helping their communities because they know the future depends on their actions.

In Ghana, young people came up with Bamboo Bicycle Project, a healthy, non-polluting form of alternative transport to meet growing mobility needs while addressing climate change, environmental degradation, poverty and high unemployment among the youth.

Congolese youth are working to contribute to REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

The youth have initiated a project that promotes conservation and sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

Olumide Idowu, a Nigeria youth, is mobilising  fellow young people to build a climate smart generation across Africa.

 In Uganda, Leah Namugerwa, a 15-year-old climate activist and student, has been striking every Friday for greater action on climate change, plastic pollution and more.

She also started the Birthday Trees initiative, encouraging people to celebrate their birthdays by planting trees.

In Kenya, young people like Elizabeth Wathuti, Rahmina Paulette, Soina Anita, Victor Onjolo and Antony Mwelu are mobilising other young people to lead the charge on climate action and reverse trends in environmental degradation, protect trees and reduce the need for resource extraction.

As the British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott rightly said, the youth are a powerful catalyst for change.

The youth are vital in pushing all of us to go further: governments and regions; businesses and cities; schools and universities.

That lays the ground for immense contributions and a demographic dividend from the largest youth population the world has ever known.

Yet a failure to invest in opportunities for youth can lead to the opposite – alienation and energy turned in destructive directions.

Innovative approaches to development using a wide range of new technologies and media to engage citizens and improve services are increasingly being used, and can play a big role in implementing the broad sustainable development agenda.

There is need to tap directly into the insights of youth, communities, and small entrepreneurs to help define challenges and implement solutions.

Organisations can use crowdsourcing to get wide input into the development of its youth strategy.  — The writer is a public Policy Specialist  [email protected]

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